Update: Google exec Marissa Mayer takes over as Yahoo CEO

Stepping in to take over Yahoo will be a challenge for Mayer, analysts agree

Marissa Mayer, a longtime Google executive, has been named the next CEO at Yahoo.

Marissa Mayer
Marissa Mayer, vice president, search products and user experience for Google, will be the new CEO of Yahoo. (Photo: Robert Galbraith / Reuters)

The 37-year-old self-described "geek" is making the jump after spending nearly her entire 13-year career at Google, rising from the company's 20th hire and first female engineer to a corporate leader and a very public face of the company.

On Tuesday, Mayer will begin a whole new chapter of her career, taking on a troubled company and becoming Yahoo's third CEO in less than a year.

"I am honored and delighted to lead Yahoo, one of the Internet's premier destinations for more than 700 million users," Mayer said in a written release. "I look forward to working with the company's dedicated employees to bring innovative products, content, and personalized experiences to users and advertisers all around the world."

Mayer's new job is causing quite an online stir. Within minutes of Yahoo announcing her new position, she was the top trending topic on Twitter and was lighting up Google's social network, Google+.

"This has to be seen as a big gain for Yahoo and loss for Google," said Dan Olds, an analyst with The Gabriel Consulting Group. "She was Google's 20th employee and is still a big force in the company. Now she's going to be the biggest force in Yahoo, which could make things very interesting again."

Mayer has wrapped up her tenure at Google.

"Since arriving at Google just over 13 years ago as employee #20, Marissa has been a tireless champion of our users, wrote Larry Page, Googles co-founder and CEO, in a statement sent to Computerworld. "She contributed to the development of our search, geo, local and other products. We will miss her talents at Google."

Eric Schmidt, Google's former CEO and current chairman, said, "Yahoo has made a good choice and I am personally very excited to see another woman become CEO of a technology company.

"I'm incredibly excited to start my new role at Yahoo! tomorrow," Mayer tweeted, shortly after Yahoo announced her hiring.

Yahoo has been searching for a new CEO ever since its last chief executive, Scott Thompson, resigned in May, embroiled in an investigation over the legitimacy of his academic credentials. He had been with the company for only five months.

Thompson was brought on after his predecessor, Carol Bartz, was let go in September 2011.

It's been a tough year for a company that was once a shining Internet pioneer but has struggled financially and fallen behind other Internet companies, including Google, Facebook and Twitter.

Stepping in to take over Yahoo will be a challenge for Mayer, analysts agree.

"Well, Yahoo needed some new ideas. They needed to do something bold and this is bold," said Zeus Kerravala, an analyst with ZK Research. "Mayer has been known for great ideas at Google so she should bring new thinking to Yahoo. From what I understand, she developed much of the look and feel of Google and Google News."

Mayer's last spot at Google was Vice President of Location and Local Services. She also sat on Google's operating committee, which is comprised of only top tier executives who oversee each and every one of the company's major decisions and launches.

Mayer was a very public figure for the company, giving press interviews and frequently speaking at Google events and press conferences.

Educated at Stanford University, Mayer was named one of the world's most powerful women by Forbes.

"She definitely has her work cut out for her at Yahoo," Olds said. "She's taking over a brand that's seen as increasingly irrelevant these days. In addition to that, Yahoo is also seen as, at best, indecisive, and at worst, incompetent."

"This new position will, of course, vault her into the ranks of the Silicon Valley elite -- and not just as a female -- but it will also focus the white-hot glare of industry and investor attention directly on her," he added.

Sharon Gaudin covers the Internet and Web 2.0, emerging technologies, and desktop and laptop chips for Computerworld. Follow Sharon on Twitter at @sgaudin, on Google+ or subscribe to Sharon's RSS feed . Her email address is sgaudin@computerworld.com.

See more by Sharon Gaudin on Computerworld.com.

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